Riding in Ireland
Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
43Trip End Jul 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
Muckross, I learned, is the Gaelic name for the point of land where the estate is which juts out into the lake. Muck means boar or pig and ross means peninsula. So its "Pig Peninsula." Muckross sounds nicer. The house was built it in 1843 for the Herbert Family who, in the 1850's undertook a major redesign and refit of the house in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is believed that preparations for the queen's 2-night visit bankrupted the family and they never recovered
After spending several hours at Muckross I then visited Ross Castle, which is a reconstructed tower-house. These tower-house's are all over Ireland, I honestly lost count of the number I passed. They are remnants of the Norman Invasion in the 12th century and some were still in use up through the early 1800s. They are pretty simple fortified stone towers where the clan chief usually lived. 4-5 floors with the main living area at the top, then the only bedroom below, then a great hall, usually for official activities, and the bottom floor was for storage and extra sleeping
On Thursday I was able to fulfill a dream, horseback riding in Ireland! I had a 2 hour morning ride through Killarney National Park, just myself and my guide Jeanene. She is French, had been in Ireland for only a few weeks, talk about Globalization in action. An American riding in Ireland with a French guide. Since it was just the 2 of us we were able to do a lot of trotting and cantering through the park, so it was definitely more then a plodding trail ride. My horse, Hercules, was a wonderful companion, very alert and curious. During our ride we started in the fields, then through some peat bogs, forests, along the lake, it was great. I don't have very many pictures because during one particularly brisk canter I managed to launch my camera out of my pocket, didn't realize it until about 10 minutes later, so we had to go back. Jeanene then put it in her zippered pocket. We also rode through several small herds of Red Deer, the only herds left in Ireland are in the park.
When my fantastic ride ended I wanted to drive to this 2500 year-old ring fort I had seen a sign for during my Ring of Kerry drive on Tuesday. Before I could get there I stopped at a pull of and saw a sign for a cafe that was supposed to be a 15 minute walk along one of the hiking trails. It was more like a 30 minute walk, but I found the cafe and had a lovely lunch before walking back to my car. I gave up on the ring fort, since I really didn't remember where along the Ring of Kerry I had seen the sign and instead headed back towards my hotel. On the spur of the moment I pulled into a parking lot for Muckross Abbey and did the 45 minute walk back to the ruined abbey. Then it was back to my hotel to repack, then treating myself to dinner and dessert in the hotel restaurant and then bed. Next up....a 3 1/2 hour drive to Dublin.
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